This is America Saves Week (Feb. 25-March 2), a time when many organizations focus on encouraging Americans to define their personal savings goals and make a plan to start, or increase, their saving habits. Whether you’re new to saving or looking to add to your current savings goals, following are actions you can take each day to strengthen your saving habits. Here are tips from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to get you and family started on a savings plan.
1. Monday: Save with a plan
Most people know that the best way to achieve their goals is to plan ahead. A plan can help you reach your savings goals. Saving can be difficult, but it’s worth it in the long-term.
Action: Use the Bureau’s worksheet to set your own savings “rule” to help you move toward your goal.
2. Tuesday: Save automatically
Now that you have a plan, a great way to make sure you’re saving consistently is to do it automatically. If you have direct deposit, you may be able to arrange for a part of each paycheck to be automatically deposited straight into your savings account. This is a good alternative to remembering to deposit or transfer money into your savings account. You could also set up an automatic recurring transfer with your bank from your checking account to a savings or investment account.
Action: Learn more about direct deposits.
Action: If you don’t already have a savings account, learn more about your options for places to save .
3. Wednesday: Save for the unexpected
The first thing you should prioritize—if you haven’t already—is to establish an emergency fund. People often don’t anticipate medical emergencies, natural disasters, or an expensive car or home repair, but these things happen.
Action: Learn how to set aside money for emergencies.
4. Thursday: Save for retirement
Once you have money set aside for unexpected and emergency expenses, you might want to consider saving for longer-term goals, like purchasing a home or retirement. It’s important to start saving for retirement as soon as you can, since your savings typically grow over time. Consider participating in employer programs, such as a 401(k) if available, and learn if you are eligible to receive an employer match, where your employer puts in some money in addition to your contributions.
If you’re a member of the military, the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is the federal government’s version of a 401(k)-retirement plan. Though it’s one of the best options for retirement investing, only half of servicemembers take advantage of TSP. Learn more about savings options for servicemembers.
Action: Explore the Department of Labor’s suggestions for the top 10 ways to prepare for retirement .
5. Friday: Save the extra
America Saves Week happens during tax season, when many Americans receive tax refunds and are deciding what to do with that payout. Putting some, or all, of your tax refund aside can jumpstart your savings goal and motivate you to keep adding to it.
Action: Learn how to automatically save your tax refund .
6. Saturday: Save as a family
America Saves Week is a great opportunity to start talking to children about saving money. The Bureau’s Money As You Grow resources include worksheets, activities, and other tips on how to help kids understand money and develop healthy financial skills. Try out these conversation starters and activities for each age category: young children, school-age children, and teenagers or young adults. You might even want to consider opening a savings account for your kids.
Action: Help your child develop a savings mindset from early childhood to young adulthood.
Knowing that you’re putting money aside can help to reduce the stress you may feel about your finances and may lead to more financial freedom in the future as your savings grow. It also helps to ensure that unexpected expenses don’t derail your financial plans. Whatever you’re able to do, the most important thing is to just start saving.
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Note, information in this post was derived from the CFPB.